Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Motive Industries Prepares X-Prize Entrant

Motive Industries is an apparently very young design and prototyping firm. The company is looking at the Automotive X-Prize as its opportunity to make a name for themselves. And since their car is like nothing I've ever seen before, I think they may just do that.

Their (currently unnamed) entrant is a mix between GM's E-Flex system and Project Better Place's battery replacement system. The car contains a large battery, which will power the electric motors. But it also has an on-board generator that can recharge the batteries if needed. But to make things even more complicated, Motive is envisioning a robotic battery replacement system that can swap out depleted batteries for charged batteries.

Now, this seems a little strange to me. Gasoline range-extension exists to eliminate the fear of running out of juice and not wanting to wait three hours for your batteries to recharge. But battery replacement exists for pretty much the same reason (though it requires new infrastructure.) So why have both?

Well, I'm not quite sure, aside from the fact that it would allow people to rely less on the generator, while still having it there just in case.

Motive's car is a four-seat, four-wheeled car that is going to try for the X-Prize's hefty $7.5M prize for the "mainstream" class. But without some intense work to keep weight and costs down. I'm afraid they won't be a front runner.


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